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Patriots

What To Watch For: How Much Will Brady Play Against Bucs?

By Matthew Geagan, CBSBoston
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) –  The New England Patriots are gearing up for another exciting preseason game, as they show their hometown fans what they’ve got for the first time this season.

OK, “exciting” and “preseason game” really don’t belong in the same sentence, but if this week at camp has taught us anything, even the most basic of plays can create quite the stir.

So, while you’re sitting in your recliner, likely flipping between the Patriots and Sox-Yankees, here are four things to watch out for at Gillette Stadium:

Brady?

It was a lot of fun on Wednesday when Tom Brady left practice, and the whole world stopped turning (at least in New England). Luckily, things returned to semi-normalcy when Brady was back out on the practice field on Thursday, though sporting a shiny new brace on that surgically repaired left knee.

It’s expected that Brady will play tonight, but is it really worth it? Sure, he has some new receivers to get used to, but he’s had joint practice sessions with two different defenses, and the youngsters looked as though they were on the same page with Brady in his one passing series last Friday. Given the injury occurred just two days ago, it might be better for Brady to sit this one out.

Patriots Blog: The Meaning Of Joint Practices

But, if Brady wants to play and Bill Belichick wants him to play, #12 will play. Probably not for long, but this will at least give us a look at how he looks after Wednesday’s scare.

Second Impressions

As we just pointed out, the young receivers that now make up 60 percent of the Patriots receiving corps looked good last Friday in Philadelphia. Kenbrell Thompkins was the most impressive of the trio, turning the most heads with not only his four catches but his sharp routes and ability to use his body to create space.

As for Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce, it would be nice to see them get into the game a little more. Dobson led the Patriots with 35 receiving yards, but those came on just two catches on eight targets. That might have something to do with who was throwing (cough, or attempting to throw) to him, but a couple more grabs from the Patriots second-rounder would be a welcome sight. Boyce is still looking to make his first NFL (preseason) catch, as he came up empty on his only target.

Read: Clear Bag Policy Hits NFL, Gillette

While we don’t want the Patriots giving opponents too much game tape of the young receivers — or experience covering them, seeing how Tampa comes back to Gillette in Week 3 — any experience they pick up in the three weeks before the season could prove to be invaluable.

Let’s Be Blount

He made the most of his 11 carries last Friday, rushing for 101 yards and a very entertaining 51-yard touchdown in the third quarter in which he ran back to Gillette first, and then into the Lincoln Financial end zone. For good measure, he added a measly one-yarder in the fourth quarter.

A bubble player to start camp, Blount needs to keep it going throughout the preseason. And given that he’ll get another shot against the team that gave up on him in the offseason, he’ll have plenty of motivation to break another one of those famous LeGarrette Blount touchdown runs.

Let’s just hope he saves a few for the regular season.

STAY HEALTHY

Yes, this is kind of a cop-out, as it made an appearance last week as well. (Spoiler Alert: chances are it’ll be back in each of the next two weeks too).

But if there is ever a week to stress staying healthy prior to the season, this is the week. The last thing everyone needs is a repeat of Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m.

Plus, by including health again, we spared you from Tim Tebow talk. You’re welcome.

Tune in to Patriots-Buccaneers Friday night on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship station of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins at 5 p.m. and Bob Socci and Scott Zolak have the call at 8 p.m.!

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